If Tamil superstar Rajinikanth plays a historical figure, can the other superhero of the state, Kamal Haasan, be far behind.
In Kochadaiiyaan, Rajinikanth dons the role of a Pandiyan king, Kochadaiiyaan Ranadhiran, who ruled from 710 to 735 AD. The film in 3D adopting what is called “performance capture technology” (presumably the first-ever time an India movie is using this), talks about a monarch who is actually not well known. History texts have hardly anything to say about him, except that he ruled from his capital city of Mangalapuram (Mangalore) as the head of the Pandyan dynasty. This was one of the three most important dynasties in south India, the other two being Cheran and Cholan.
Thanks to Rajinikanth and his upcoming film, the Pandyan king is bound to rise from the rustiness of history and shine. Who knows, texts may add new pages on him.
Now Haasan is getting into history all right by essaying an 8th century folk artist, Uttaman, in the under-production movie, Uttama Villain. Like in the case of Ranadhiran, hardly anything is known about Uttaman. We will wait for Haasan to enlighten us.
However, the actor will portray not just Uttaman in the picture, but also a 21st century cinema superstar, Manoranjan.
Kamal has always been enamoured of dual or multi roles. We saw his Dasavatharam – where he appears as 10 different characters. This was a humungous progress – if one may call it so -- from the quadruplets he essayed in both Michael Madana Kama Rajan and Apoorva Sagodharargal. Even in Viswaroopam, Haasan transforms from a feminine dance master to an Intelligence officer. Such, it seems, is his passion to act out diverse characters in the run time of one single film.
Uttama Villain will see him as a gentle folk/drama artist and a popular star, and will have the legendary Tamil director K Balachander -- whom Kamal describes as his mentor – also as a mentor on the screen.
Uttama Villain will also have another helmer, K. Vishwanath – who has directed Kamal in several Telugu classics -- as Uttaman’s father-in-law. Andrea Jeremiah will pair with Manoranjan, while Pooja Kumar enacts an emotionally disturbed princess in love with Uttaman.
Ramesh Aravind will direct the movie, whose story and script have been penned by Haasan himself.
In Kamal’s long career which began with the 1960 Gemini Ganesh-Savithri starrer, Kalathur Kannamma, (where Hassan is a mere child), his best works have been those that told us very personal stories, like Nayagan, Moondram Pirai, Ek Duje Ke Liye and Sagar. His wide-canvas films with multiple characters have been less impressive and less endearing.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran has been an avid Kamal watcher, and may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)